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Port Macquarie-Hastings Council will request the NSW Government to undertake a thorough independent review of the community engagement process and engineering and arborist reports in relation to the proposed upgrade to the Port Macquarie breakwall.
Council has also requested the CEO write to Premier Dominic Perrottet, advising him of council's "significant concerns" in relation to the project.
A request will also be put to Transport for NSW to "urgently" provide council with the multi-beam hydro survey and point cloud-drone survey which was used to produce cross sectional 3d model of the southern breakwall.
The motion was carried seven votes to two at the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council meeting on Thursday (November 17).
The refined concept design includes rebuilding 600 metres of the breakwall along the river section, maintenance of the breakwall head with minimal change to the footprint, a five metre-wide shared pathway and lighting.
Community concerns have been raised regarding the removal of pine trees and the potential impact on surfing and the economy.
Some of the painted rocks will be submerged in the river with new rocks placed on top.
Bodyboarding legend and resident Damian King addressed councillors at the meeting and said the surveys that have been undertaken need to be provided and called for an independent assessment of the breakwall project.
"There have been two opposing surveys, the multi-beam survey and the Manly Hydraulics Laboratory survey. I don't think we should be ripping up the breakwall when we don't have enough evidence," he said.
"I think a second opinion is worthwhile."
Mr King also spoke of his connection to the breakwall from age 12.
"This breakwall is important to this town," he said. "It's connected to this community."
Mr King said the painted rocks along the breakwall are "like a cemetery" and the unique waves helped him hone his skills as a surfer.
"There's a lot at stake and I think the breakwall is the soul of our town. I'm questioning if all of the options have been explored."
Councillors debate motion
Deputy Mayor Adam Roberts said Mr King's presentation highlighted the fact that more questions need to be answered in relation to the proposed Transport for NSW's upgrade.
"It's unfortunate that we haven't had some of the fundamental reports and surveys given to us," he said.
"I think the community has spoken loudly that they want answers on this issue."
Mayor Peta Pinson agreed and said the State Government "needs to prove and be responsible for what they're doing here".
"The community has voiced very loudly their concerns about the breakwall and I think it does need to go to the top," she said.
Councillor Rachel Sheppard spoke against the motion and said she doesn't see any reason to question the process of Transport for NSW.
"I think it is a big deal to question their expertise," she said. "We need to have a significant reason to question that."
Cr Sheppard put forward an amendment, that was ultimately lost, to simply note the information in the Southern Breakwall Port Macquarie report.
"This is the motion before us. We don't have control over this project and our role is to note the info," she said when speaking to her lapsed amendment.
Councillor Nik Lipovac said there are supporters in our community of the breakwall upgrade from the business and tourism sector.
Councillor Danielle Maltman said the State Government has had "enough time to provide all of the information".
"They [the State Government] has failed us and the community," she said.
"The whole process has been flawed. And this needs to be escalated now."
Councillor Lisa Intemann said council needs to "move quickly on this and start making an approach to the Premier's office".
Loudly voiced issue
Both Cr Lipovac and Intemann raised the issue of some of the " vicious" response to councillors in relation to the project.
Cr Lipovac said he has "received unpleasant and even aggressive messages" from people he doesn't know.
Cr Intemann said she has also heard of incidents where councillors have been targeted for their views, when this is a State Government project.
"I have heard from people who are outraged some councillors are not in agreement with them on this issue," Cr Intemann said. "We are a democracy and we do not encourage vicious behaviour in the community and everyone is entitled to have different points of view."
Council will now request the CEO to write to the Premier, advising him of council's significant concerns in relation to the Port Macquarie Southern Breakwall project, due to the need for further information and to address significant concerns expressed by the community.
Council will also request the NSW Government to:
- Undertake a thorough independent review of the community engagement process and the engineering and arborist reports.
- Address in writing, the numerous questions raised by the Port Macquarie Hastings Community, that have been previously provided to the State Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams.
- Request transport for NSW to urgently provide to council the high resolution multi-beam hydro survey and point cloud-drone survey which was used to produce cross sectional 3d model of the southern breakwall.
Member for Port Macquarie Leslie William's office has been contacted for comment.
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